Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Recent Books

The Lost Man (November 2018)

By Jane Harper

November 27, 2018

The man lay still in the centre of a dusty grave under a monstrous sky.

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there.  But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last chance for their middle brother, Cameron.

The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.  Something had been troubling Cameron.  Did he lose hope and walk to his death?  If he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

The Seven Impertect Rules of Elvira Carr (November 2018)

By Frances Maynard

November 27, 2018

Elvira Carr is twenty-seven, neuro-atypical, and has never lived alone.  But her father – who she suspects was in the secret service – is dead, and when her mother has a stroke and is taken into care, Elvira suddenly finds herself home alone.  In order to cope, Elvira – who knows a lot about biscuits and floor coverings, but not much about life – develops a list of seven rules for interacting with others.  Not even her rules can help her, however, when she’s faced with solving a mystery she didn’t even know existed…

84K (November 2018)

By Claire North

November 27, 2018

Theo Miller knows the value of human life – to the very last penny.  Working in the Criminal Audit Office, he assesses each crime that crosses his desk and makes sure the correct debt to society is paid in full.  But when his ex-lover is killed, it’s different.  This is one death he can’t let become merely an entry on a balance sheet.  Because when the richest in the world are getting away with murder, sometimes the numbers just don’t add up.

The Alice Network (November 2018)

By Kate Quinn

November 27, 2018

1947.  In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family.  She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive.  So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915.  A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy.  Sent into enemy -occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name, Alice, the “queen of spies,” who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house.  That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

Life as a Novel: A biography of Maurice Shadbolt (November 2018)

By Philip Temple

November 27, 2018

Maurice Shadbolt believed that New Zealanders should tell their own stories, cherish their own myths and believe in their own big lies before they could stand upright in a post-colonial world.  Through his fiction, non-fiction and international journalism, he played a leading role in projecting New Zealand to the world throughout the second half of the 20th century.

His overseas success provoked envy among literary critics but this had little impact on his many readers at home or abroad, nor the judges who awarded him prizes and fellowships.  His first novel, Among The Cinders (1965), achieved sales of more than 200,000, unprecedented at the time for a work of New Zealand fiction.  His non-fiction New Zealand: Gift of the Sea (1963), in collaboration with Magnum photographer Brian Brake, also achieved enormous sales.  The success of Shadbolt’s books reflected the growing hunger of New Zealanders for stories about themselves.

Author Philip Temple knew Maurice Shadbolt well and brings insight to his story of how Shadbolt made his mark as a writer of fiction.  He tells of Shadbolt’s adventures behind the Iron Curtain; his role in anti-Vietnam War protests; his voyage to Mururoa to protest French nuclear testing.  He tells of Shadbolt’s close friendships with guru poet James K. Baxter and leading painters such as Colin McCahon.  Philip Temple also tells of Shadbolt’s increasingly fraught personal life.  By the age of 40, he had been married twice and  fathered five children and been involved in numerous affairs.  It is a fascinating tale about a man who became New Zealand’s most well-known and controversial author.

Dark Sacred Night (November 2018)

By Michael Connelly

November 13, 2018

Even detectives have a dark side…

At the end of a long, dark night detectives Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch cross paths for the first time.

Detective Renee Ballard works the graveyard shift and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old files.

The intruder is none other than retired legendary LAPD detective Harry Bosch, hunting for leads in an unsolved case that has got under his skin.

Ballard escorts him out but – curious to know what he was searching for – soon becomes obsessed by the murder of Daisy Clayton.  Was she the first victim of a serial killer who still stalks the streets?

For Bosch, the case is more than personal: it may be all he has left.

But in a city where crime never sleeps, even detectives have a dark side…

From the Ashes (November 2018)

By Deborah Challinor

November 13, 2018

In 1950’s Auckland things are changing – and fast.  Women are joining the workforce in numbers, white goods are readily available and the age of rock ‘n’ roll has arrived.

Allie Manaia works the Elizabeth Arden counter at Smith and Caugheys.  It’s been two years since the Dunbar and Jones fire, where some of her friends perished, but she still has nightmares.

Kathleen Lawson – rich, lonely and bored – is one of Allie’s customers.  Kathleen takes a shine to Allie, but when she discovers Allie’s husband is Maori, her attitude changes.  It she trying to make friends or poison the relationship between Sonny and Allie?

Meanwhile, Sonny’s beautiful younger sister, Polly, is embracing the more relaxed moral standards of the era, living a vibrant but wayward life as a waitress-model-goodtime girl while leaving her young daughter to be raised by her mother.

As each woman navigates the shifting social and cultural landscape of the 1950s, she is faced with new possibilities and decisions – with freedom comes a joy, but also fear and, occasionally, mistakes.

Told in Deborah Challinor’s trademark style – equal parts heart and humour – From the Ashes follows the fortunes of the women of three families through one decade of incredible change.

The Mitford Murders (November 2018)

By Jessica Fellowes

November 13, 2018

Murder on a train, 1919

Louisa Cannon dreams of fleeing London, and most of all her dangerous uncle.  Her escape is a job at Asthall Manor, where she becomes nursery maid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen-year-old Nancy.

But then a nurse – Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of her famous namesake – is killed on a train, and Louisa and Nancy find themselves entangled with a murderer who will do anything to hide their secret…

Lose yourself in the first of a new series of mysteries set amid the lives of the glamorous Mitford sisters, by Jessica Fellows, author of the bestselling Downton Abbey books.

The Reckoning (November 2018)

By John Grisham

November 13, 2018

John Grisham returns to Clanton, Mississippi, to tell the story of an unthinkable murder, the bizarre trial that followed it, and its profound and lasting effect on the people of Ford County.

Pete Banning was Clanton’s favourite son, a returning war hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbor, and a faithful member of the Methodist church.  Then one cool October morning in 1946, he rose early, drove into town, walked into the church, and calmly shot and killed the Reverend Dexter Bell.

As if the murder wasn’t shocking enough, it was even more baffling that Pete’s only statement about it – to the sheriff, to his defence attorny, to the judge, to his family and friends, and to the people of Clanton – was ‘I have nothing to say’.

And so the murder of the esteemed Reverend Bell became to most mysterious and unforgettable crime Ford Country has ever known.

The Sentence is Death (November 2018)

By Anthony Horowitz

November 13, 2018

Secrets Can Kill

Smooth-tongued divorce lawyer Richard Pryce is bludgeoned to death in his London home.

Scrawled on the wall beside the body: the number 182.

What does it mean?  And who was it at his front door just minutes before he died and while he was still talking on the phone?

Confronted with the most baffling of mysteries, the police are forced to turn to disgraced private investigator Daniel Hawthorne.

As the death toll rises, Hawthorne confronts a tangle of secrets while at the same time doing everything he can to conceal his own past.

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